COVID 2021

COVID PM: Not too late to join us for ‘People in the Pandemic’

Hey, everyone, we’re almost over the Wednesday hump, the birds are still singing outside my window like it’s already spring — and you’ve still got a chance to join us for our free Lookout event that kicks off at 6 p.m.!

Sign up here and listen to the stories and observations of this neatly eclectic group of Santa Cruz County locals.

Meanwhile, we’ve been hearing from a number of teachers who drive over the hill to teach who are finding it difficult to get vaccinated. We reached out to both Santa Cruz County and Dignity to help sort it out. More on what we found below.

The so-called “California strain” is making some people, even scientific experts, a bit nervous. Our content partner the LA Times dug in to answer the pertinent questions. More on that also below.

And now on to this evening’s headlines...

Sorting out teacher vaccine issues

A teacher collects crayons.

COVID TODAY: With the announcement that teachers are among those eligible for vaccination, there’s been some confusion for the many educators who live in Santa Cruz but teach in other counties. Teachers in this situation who tried to get vaccinated through Dignity Health have received conflicting information over the past several days about whether they were eligible. County communications manager Jason Hoppin now tells Lookout that the county health agency indeed will use its vaccine allocation to inoculate teachers who live in Santa Cruz but work elsewhere. Mallory Pickett delves into the issue here.

Under the theme “Stories Matter,” the 9th annual Watsonville Film Festival will spotlight 20 award-winning indie and...

Everything to know about the ‘California strain’

A transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles that were isolated from a patient.

VARIANT WATCH: Even as California continues to see big declines in COVID-19 after the recent holiday surge, there is growing concern about another potential problem around the corner. New research strongly suggests that the coronavirus strain now dominant in California not only spreads more readily than its predecessors, but also has the ability to evade antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines or prior infection. It’s also associated with more severe illness and death. So what does that mean alongside our continuing march back to the red tier and further re-openings? The LA Times delves into that here.

More from here & elsewhere

California’s reopening road map: What can reopen and when after the COVID-19 surge has subsided (LA Times)
The House is about to pass more COVID-19 relief. What’s in the bill? (LA Times)
California students in richer areas far more likely to be back in classrooms (CalMatters)
Coronavirus infection leads to immunity that’s comparable to a COVID-19 vaccine (LA Times)
Lessons from a Central California prison where Covid ‘spread like wildfire’ (Kaiser Health News)
Stop panicking about the COVID-19 variants, says UCSF’s Monica Gandhi (SF Gate)
Marin residents misuse access codes meant for Black, Latino communities to get COVID-19 vaccines (SF Gate)
High-End Medical Provider Let Ineligible People Skip COVID-19 Vaccine Line (NPR)
Are you giving your pets supplements to ward off COVID? Don’t bother (LA Times)

ASK LOOKOUT: We answer your questions . . .

Q: Can vaccine be made a job requirement? — Sandra

A: Our content partner the LA Times had a good story on this last month and unfortunately the answers lie somewhere in the grays. “It’s not cut and dry,” said Ubaka Ogbogu, professor of law and bioethics at the University of Alberta in Canada. “Not all vaccines are created equal and not all diseases are created equal. It’s a very complex thing.” The easiest potential legal outs for someone arguing against an employer demanding they be vaccinated are the following:
if they think it will exacerbate an established disability or medical condition or if it goes against their sincerely held religious belief.

Q: Where do you find the latest number on the positive cases per 100,000 that determines what color tier we are in? — Stu W

A: Great question, Stu. First you go here and then you scroll down toward the bottom of the page where you see the California map. Click on Santa Cruz County and it will bring up the following data you see below. The adjusted number accounts for the amount of testing being done in the county and that’s the one that’s used for tier assignment, which is why we are currently at 8.6, needing to get below 7 in order to drop back into the red tier.

Have a question for us to try and get answered? Submit it here or just reply to this email.

#BOLO

After a week absence, county health officials will get back to holding court on all things COVID-19 and vaccine distribution Thursday at 2 p.m. Be On the Lookout for a link from us in case you’d like to watch it live. Otherwise we’ll be sure to pass along all the pertinent details. And, as always, send us your questions and we’ll do our best to incorporate them into our reporting.

See you tomorrow!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor